Asplenium - Aspleniaceae

Asplenium schelpei A.F. Braithw.

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings






Common name


Rhizome short, creeping; rhizome scales reddish brown, clathrate, lineair, up to 7 mm long. Fronds closely spaced, tufted, coriaceous. Stipe 8-15 cm long, scaly, dark brown, green on upper surface towards lamina. Lamina 9-20(30) × 4-9 cm, bipinnate, oblong-lanceolate in outline, 7-15 pairs of pinnae, basal pinnae not or very slightly reduced. Pinnae glabrous, elongate-trapeziform, 1-5 pinnules below the apex. Pinnules rounded, cuneate to spathulate, shiny dark green above, matt paler green below, margins irregular, shallowly toothed at slightly lobed apices. Sori 5-12 mm long, linear, almost totally covering the lower surface of the pinnules when mature; indusium entire.


A. schelpei is difficult to distinguish from other ferns in the A. aethiopicum-complex. A. schelpei has reddish brown, clathrate, linear rhizome scales; the lamina is 2-pinnate, thickly leathery, shiny bright dark green above & matt, paler green below; it often forms colonies. In the A. aethiopicum-complex rhizome scales are light to very dark brown, narrowly subulate to linear; lamina is more divided (deeply 2-pinnatifid to 3-pinnate) and is herbaceous to leathery.


Schelpei: named after E.A.C.L.E. Schelpe


Full sun or light shade at base of boulders on rocky outcrops, in quartzite and granite rock crevices.

Distribution worldwide

See African distribution.

Distribution in Africa

South Africa, Zimbabwe.

Growth form

Lithophytic, terrestrial.


  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Page 248. Placed within Asplenium aethiopicum complex!
  • Crouch, N.R., Klopper, R.R., Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M. (2011) Ferns of Southern Africa, A comprehensive guide. Struik Nature. Pages 650 - 651. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 366 - 368. (Includes a picture).
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 170.
  • Roux, J.P. (2009) Synopsis of the Lycopodiophyta and Pteridophyta of Africa, Madagascar and neighbouring islands. Strelitzia 23, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria. Page 96.